Most traditional African societies regard the Earth as sacred. The implications of this philosophical idea are numerous. In fact, Africans take the Earth to be a major spirit—not just the carrier of all the other spirits, but a vital, living entity.

In the ancient narrative of creation told in the African Nile Valley, the Supreme Deity created Shu and Tefnut, air and moisture, and Nut and Geb, sky and Earth. Thus, Geb, the Earth, was at the very beginning. As a deity, Geb was considered one of the sacred elements of the universe. The Earth as a deity must be treated with respect and deference if the universe is to be held together.

One way to protect the human and natural order is to share in general ...

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